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Snowdonia Peaks

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

SNOWDON IN THE SNOW 29th December 2014

Well what a fantastic day this was and my first real experience of walking in the mountains in snow. I have been out when snow was about, mainly around the summits, but this was snow from the off. This should of been my New Years Day 2015 walk but with the predicted forecast of strong winds and heavy rain I decided to take advantage of the clear crisp sunny winter days that we were having of late and enjoy my last walk of 2014. After checking the various webcams, weather reports and various photo's off other peoples recent trips to SNOWDON it all looked positive so with pack at the ready I was to venture out into a winter wonderland for the day. Now I don't have an ice axe or full on crampons but I do have the KAHTOOLA MICROSPIKES which are great if you don't do full on winter mountain climbing all the time. They certainly give you more confidence than slipping and sliding all over the place and there was more than one or two doing that today, and as I have been up Snowdon quite a few times I know the terrain and was more than willing to turn back if the snow & ice got too much that I felt unsafe. As it happened, the paths were well trodden and compact and I felt at home and very comfortable. I would certainly recommend some sort of spikes to give you a grip on the compact snow and ice as a safety reason and to give you more confidence to enjoy the day. If I was to be out a lot more in this kind of weather then I would certainly go for the more full on Crampons and always be prepared to turn back if conditions became unfavourable.
The day started with me finding one of the last spaces on the car park at 8.30am, a sure sign that there was to be a few people out enjoying the conditions. I bumped into a chap I know and had a quick chat in the car park before we went on our way. Mike was going over CRIB GOCH and he had all the right equipment for that today, I was to go straight up the horns from the car park as this way was away from any crowds and also from the icy long stretch of the PYG TRACK as this place is totally out of the sun at this time of year. Incidently, Mike was one of the first people I walked the Snowdon Horseshoe with about 5 years ago and I also bumped into another Mike who was also a member of the party that did that walk and he too went over Crib Goch today. That day was my first real introduction to proper scrambling and set me on the way to do many more scrambles, great memories and two really nice lads.
So on our seperate ways we went as I made my way up the steep grassy bank following the fence line as I climbed the horn that offers some great views. Lots of soft snow mixed in with boggy and icy ground with a few rocks and boulders thrown in for good measure. It's a fairly straight forward way up, steep but very rewarding and the views start to open up almost immediately.
Morning view of Snowdon Horseshoe from Plas y Brenin

My there and back route for the day. About 7 miles
Sun just rising from the car park

Looking back down to the car park and across the valley to my favourite Snowdonia mountain Moel Siabod
Pano of the Horns and Horseshoe

View down to Llyn Lydaw from the horn
Going this way offers great views of the surrounding mountains, MOEL SIABOD, GLYDERAU and the Snowdon Horseshoe. As I said before, it is also very quiet as I didn't see anyone else going this way, although there were footprints about from the previous days or earlier that day. You only start to see people when you come down and join the Pyg Track. The silence was broken when two RAF jets were on a training excersise as they flew around the valleys. Quite spectacular to see. It was when I got on to the Pyg Track that I decided to put my spikes on as a precaution as this is where the path was made up of ice and compact snow. There was also bare patches where it had melted and that was a mixture of water and loose scree. A nice steady leisurely walk round to the zig zags with plenty of stops taking it all in. This really is a great place and todays sceneary was for me just perfect.
Looking back to the horn from the Pyg Track
Snowdon ahead still in cloud
Looking back along the Pyg Track
Moel Siabod in the distance and the curved twin peaks of Y Llwedd
A couple of climbers enjoying the conditions
Another stunning view back
Although the cloud had been hanging around the summit all day, there was glimpses that it would move away to give some good clear views, how wrong was I!!! Topping out at the finger post that marks the joining of paths from LLANBERIS and coming off GARNEDD UGAIN it was like stepping into another world, a cold frozen artic like world where hats and gloves stayed firmly on. Again, the path was pretty straight forward with the spikes on, a bit slippery without. I made my way to the summit to be met with a glimpse of sun  before it dissapeared and the place was almost a white out with only the bare rocks and the dark silhouette's of other walkers standing out. A completely different world to the one just a hundred metres or so below and it caught a lot of unprepared people out and there was a lot of folk coming and going. I found a good spot out of the wind for a bite to eat and to people watch, had a wander around before making my way back to the more tranquil setting of the Pyg Track and the way back.
Into the mist looking down on Glaslyn
On the arctic like summit approach with the sun trying to get through
The summit cafe and wall offered good wind protection
Snowdon summit trig point
South face of Snowdon cafe
Snowdon cafe
Resident summit seagull
Getting close to a white out at the summit
Just about see the way down
Ice blasted rocks next to the path
A hole in the mist with a view down towards Cwm Clogwyn
A couple of bikers going to have an exciting way down to Llanberis
Cloud lifting slightly for a view down in to Cwm Clogwyn
Ice blasted finger post that marks the coming of paths at the top of the Pyg Track
Getting back down on the Pyg Track and out of the arctic conditions was quite a relief, an exciting and somewhat surreal time on the summit but good to get back to the relative calm and clear conditions. It was while making my way back that I decided to just go back the same way rather than take the MINERS TRACK which was my original intention. It was such a great day that I wanted to make the most of it and enjoy the good relaxed pace I was doing rather than the more labourious and most probably very icy Miners Path which on the whole is a well laid out slabbed and stone path. I just wanted the better views and more pleasant for me enjoyable way down.
Two more climbers enjoying their day
Back in the calmer conditions
Quite a few people enjoying the day
Great views all the way back
Climbers enjoying Crib Goch
I bet he had some excellent views from up there
My route back towards the horn with Moel Siabod in the distance
I had made good steady progress on the way down and as I approached the path to take me along the horn the sun was going down behind Snowdon. I did pass quite a lot of people making there way up and hoped that they wouldn't get caught out by the fading light in the icy conditions. I got back to the car with about an hour of daylight left so timed my day just about right. It can be a difficult place in the dark without snow and ice so hope all got down with no misshaps.
Instead of the slippery stepped Pyg Track back to the car I again went along the Horns making the most of what was left of a great day. I also saw the only two other people on here and they had only come to get a photo of the splendid views
This was the clearest that Snowdon had been all day as the sun was going down
The only glimpse of the Summit
Great view of the Horns, Glyderau and Moel Siabod
Great view of the Horseshoe and Llyn Lydaw
Great view of the horns and the horseshoe
View down to the car park as the last of the sun lights up the Glyders
The final steep descent to the car park
A quick stop off at PLAS y BRENIN to get one final photo as the sun sets on yet another awesome day in this most fantastic place.

 A fantastic end to what has been a fantastic year. Thanks for looking and I wish you all a great 2015.


  1. A bit different from your Edale walk eh? It looks wonderful, well most of it does. I'm not sure I fancy feeling that breeze at the top like. Happy New Year to you Andy. :-)

  2. Thanks Tracey. It was great. Best wishes :-)

  3. Looks like a fantastic day Andy, you've captured some great wintry scenes. Also an interesting option straight from the car park I've not done that before.

  4. Cheers Phil. Going up straight from the car park is, I find, more enjoyable and certainly less crowded. Well worth the effort of the first steep climb. :-)